US 7416234 B2
An extendable vehicle cargo floor assembly that includes a semi-rigid material panel base and a slideable panel that slides between guides so as to provide easy access to cargo stored in the vehicle storage part. In another embodiment, the panels are segmented in parts and joined together at installation. In another embodiment, the base panel is not used and instead, a bedliner is configured to operate as the base panel.
1. An extendable vehicle cargo floor assembly comprising:
a first panel of semi-rigid material forming a base, said base being fixed to the vehicle cargo floor, said base having a top surface and a bottom surface, a first edge and a second edge, a front end and a back end,
a pair of spaced-apart channel means affixed to said vehicle cargo floor, each of said channel means being parallel and opposite to each other, said first edge and said second edge of said base being fixedly mounted between said channel means,
a second panel of semi-rigid material forming a cargo deck, said deck having a top surface and a bottom surface, a first edge and a second edge, a front end and a back end, said first edge and said second edge of said second panel being slideably mounted between said channel means, and slideably mounted in an overlying relationship to said base,
said first and second panels each comprising two or more portions joined together; and
means formed near said back end of said second panel for facilitating the extending of the second panel through a tailgate access opening of a vehicle,
wherein the pair of said spaced-apart channel means are positioned so as to allow the second panel to be extended through the tailgate access opening of the vehicle.
2. The assembly according to
3. The assembly according to
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5. The assembly according to
means for moving and controlling movement of said second panel.
This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/883,248 filed Jul. 2, 2004 now U.S. Pat. No. 6,976,720, which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/185,984 filed Jul. 1, 2002, now abandoned, which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/068,541 filed Feb. 8, 2002, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,503,036.
1. Field of the Invention
This invention relates to truck beds and SUV rear compartments and attachable deck extensions therefore, and more particularly, to a composite/plastic sliding extension plate attached to a truck bed or bedliner or SUV rear compartment by a base plate having molded rails of metal, plastic, or composite to facilitate the controlled movement of the extension plate, the movement of the extension plate being manually or motor actuated.
2. Prior Art
The present invention relates to motor vehicles specifically relating to an improvement in the utility of the cargo area of such vehicles. With the proliferation of compact, mid-size, full-size pickup trucks with short beds and recent developments of hybrid vehicles capable of being converted into pickups to closed rear compartment configurations, limitation is placed on the ability of vehicle owners to effectively haul longer items typically accommodated by longer beds (e.g., a 4 foot×8 foot sheet of plywood.)
Owners of hybrid pickup/SUV vehicles, find difficulty in accessing the enclosed rear deck even with the tailgate down and with one or more top panels removed. Additionally, designers of these vehicles choose lining materials for the floor and walls of these compartments which have high coefficients of friction so that contents tend to remain stationary by reason of their “adhesion” to the surface. Added to the awkward access to such compartments, the difficulty in sliding something over this high friction surface dramatically decreases the utility of the vehicle. Simple activities such as grocery shopping are made difficult if not impossible by a person of small stature and even larger, stronger users have trouble reaching and moving items.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,312,034 to Coleman et al. discloses a “drop-in” bed liner/deck extension which addresses a number of the difficulties described and while extension is provided, the attachment methods described, do not allow for safe transport of heavier items for which the vehicle is designed (typically 1000.lbs for a half-ton pickup) nor does it describe any motor means for moving the extension when it may be so loaded and while a braking means is therein described, it does not provide for braking at any point of extension, relying as it does upon a series of holes into which a brake pin is inserted.
Concerning the proliferation of multiple purpose vehicles such as SUVs, vans and station wagons, the rear cargo area is subjected to a drivers range of uses by consumers such as hauling groceries, luggage, golf clubs, and other valuable and sometimes fragile items. A problem faces by owners of such vehicles is how to restrain smaller items or compartmentalize the space to keep items separate. An additional problem is the discomfort and potential for back injury associated with the necessity of leaning into the cargo area for loading and unloading of heavy cargo items.
The present invention addresses these problems and while it shares in common with U.S. Pat. No. 6,312,034 to Coleman et al., the use of interlocking rails between a base member and a sliding extension member, it differs in the attachment, motorization, braking, and construction of these components and presents a modular “L” bracket design allowing for the creation of storage/containment areas anywhere over the surface of the bed extension. Additionally, the present invention is, by reason of its fixture to the vehicle as a bolt-on (or other sufficient attachment means known in the art) insert to the rear deck, more substantial in its capacity to safely manage heavy loads.
In accordance with the present invention, a base mounting platform is affixed to the bed/deck of a motor vehicle (i.e., pickup truck, SUV or hybrid, etc.) and a slideable bed extension attached by interlocking rails molded or otherwise formed between the base and the bed extension, is provided along with a motorized means of moving the bed extension and a braking means for retaining it in a chosen position and a series of attachable partitions to form compartments by which items being transported may be contained or constrained.
Accordingly, several objects and advantages of the present invention are:
The invention is a base for attachment to the bed of a pickup truck, SUV etc., and an interlocking, slideable deck attached thereto. Both the base and the bed are made of plastic, composite or other durable material. The base is fixed to the vehicle in secure fashion and provides a support for the deck. Motor and braking apparatus are fixed between the base and the deck providing means for moving and controlling the extension of the bed beyond the limits of the existing vehicle bed and tailgate. Holes and other attachment/location means are provided along with multiple modular partitions for securing items against movement while they are being transported. The configuration of the attachment holes in a grid pattern allows for multiple arrangements of the partitions to secure and/or contain a large variety of transported items. The deck surface is textured to decrease friction against loads being carried so that, once the load is unbound or unrestrained, it can easily slide over the deck surface facilitating the management of bulky heavy articles in a manner consistent with the overall intention of the invention.
The deck is interlocked with the base by a plurality of grooves and rails in the shape of a “T” or other suitable shape. Between each rail set is a fixed slide attached to the bottom side of the deck. These slides act to support and guide the deck as it is slid out over the tailgate. The deck and thus the slides would ideally be manufactured from durable, slippery plastic material to provide maximum ease of use with minimum friction. A stop or bumper is fitted to one or more of the base rails to stop the deck from sliding out too far and possibly separating dangerously from the base. In a first embodiment, the deck is moved back and forth being driven by a motor means attached to an endless chain and attachment pad. In a further embodiment, the endless chain would be replaced by an endless wire rope with a pad attached and in a further embodiment a worm drive moves the deck. In the latter embodiment, no braking mechanism is required as the worm drive acts as a brake whenever it ceases to move. Braking in other embodiments can be accomplished using a pawl and ratchet track wherein the pawl is engaged and disengaged from the track by activation through a grip handle release common to prior art ratchet installations.
In still another variation of the invention, instead of a base panel, a bedliner is used as the base. In this embodiment, the extendable vehicle cargo floor assembly comprises a bedliner on a vehicle cargo floor; a panel of semi-rigid material forming a cargo deck, said deck having a top surface and a bottom surface, a first edge and a second edge, a front end and a back end, said bottom surface of said deck having a plurality of low friction strips affixed to said bottom surface of said panel, said panel being in a slideable overlying relationship to said bedliner; a pair of spaced-apart guide means affixed to the bedliner for guiding the extending operation of the panel; and means for facilitating the extending of the panel through a tailgate access opening of the vehicle. The pair of spaced-apart guide means comprise channels within which the first and second edges of the panel slide.
In order to save significant charges related to shipment by ground of the inventive parts of the invention, an alternative to the single slideable panel is to make the panel as two or more portions joined together. These can be joined at installation with an H-channel or hinge device or other joining means known in the art.
In still another variation of the previously described invention with a base pane and slideable panel, each panel is made as two or more portions joined together. These can be joined at installation with an H-channel or hinge device or other joining means known in the art.
Referring now to the drawing wherein like numerals designate like and corresponding parts throughout the several views, the invention is designated overall by the numeral 10. In
Referring now to
Referring now to
An alternative embodiment is disclosed in
An alternative embodiment is disclosed in
In order to save significant charges related to shipment by ground of the inventive parts of the invention, an alternative to the single slideable panel 116,216 or base panel 117,217 is to make the panel as two or more portions joined together as depicted in
There are many optional methods of providing means for facilitating the operation of the slideable panel 116,216 in and out of the vehicle cargo bed. For example, a hole 119 could be provided or a hand grasping handle 119 a could be provided. In the example depicted of handle 119 a, it is incorporated with one of the two end caps 312 when multiple segments of panels are used. The end caps 312 completes the joining the panels 116,216.
It should be noted that the embodiments of the vehicle sliding floor extension presented herein in detail for exemplary purposes is subject to variations in structure, design, application and methodology. Due to the fact that a variation of embodiments may be derived within the scope of the inventive concepts herein taught, and numerous modifications may be made to the exemplary embodiment herein presented in accordance with the descriptive requirements of the law, it should be understood that the details herein included in the detailed description of the present invention are to be interpreted as illustrative in nature and not in a limiting sense. Thus the scope of the invention should be determined by the appended claims and their legal equivalents, rather than by the examples given.